Thursday, February 26, 2009
Indians give Neal first North Half win
By CLAUDE VINSON
The Byhalia Indians hit the court for North State with the same aggressiveness they had displayed at Tunica in the Region 3-3A Tournament.
They set the Booneville Blue Devils on their heels early in a home game February 17 and kept pouring it on. Josh Rodgers was plugging the middle, blocking shots and taking the defensive rebounds. The Indians had recorded a 10-point lead of 16-6 after the first period.
Byhalia was doing a great job of tracking the ball. And although the Blue Devils were showing some offense, adding 13 points in the second, it was still below the Byhalia output. The Indians had a 30-19 mark at halftime.
Byhalia began double-teaming on defense. They were anticipating and cutting off the fast breaks. On the offensive end, Cornelius Blackmon was wreaking havoc on the inside. He had 13 first half points. However, Byhalia was showing some weaknesses at the charity stripe and on lay-up attempts. But the score moved to 51-31 in the Indians’ favor at the end of the third period.
The Indians did not relinquish the 20-point lead which they had built in the third. With a 65-44 margin in the fourth quarter, coach Michael Neal cleared his bench and they took it to the 69-56 victory and first North Half playoff win for their second-year coach.
Blackmon finished the game with 22 points. He was followed by Rodgers with 13 and Mario Parker with 10.
Indians muzzle Bulldogs
The Byhalia Indians took another big step in trying to reach “The Big House” by taking down the Aberdeen Bulldogs, defending 3A champions, in the second round of the North Half at Corinth on February 19.
Both teams were being patient after the tipoff. They were using zone schemes on both offense and defense. The Bulldogs out-maneuvered the Indians in the first quarter and held a slender lead after the first period at 14-10. But the second quarter saw some dedicated rebounding by Byhalia. The Indians were going for the ball and making the Bulldogs commit the infractions. They were in the bonus very early in the second frame. They swung the lead back to their side of the scoreboard with a 34-32 advantage when the horn sounded intermission.
Byhalia took over the game in the third and was not threatened seriously by Aberdeen after that. The Indians ran up a quick eight unanswered points. Courtney Warren and Jermone Marion hit back-to- back threes and pushed the margin to 59-42 when the third was completed.
The Bulldogs were helpless after that. Their infractions sent Mario Parker to the line numerous times and Parker was knocking down freebies at a steady rate. Josh Rodgers was sticking back the shots which barely missed their marks. Byhalia moved on to the semis with an 81-66 victory.
Parker paced the Indians with 19 points. Other players shooting double figures for the Indians were Marion with 16, Kenyatta Jones with 15, Warren with 12 and Rodgers with 11.
Byhalia falls to Corinth
When the Indians and Warriors tipped off in the semi-final game in Corinth on Friday night they could have been called bookends. They were almost perfectly matched and their offense and defense formations mirrored each other. They traded leads the entire first quarter with the Warriors coming up one point better (17-16) in the first period.
The Indians were doing an excellent job of keying on the ball. They let Corinth sneak ahead because of some missed close-in baskets. The 38-31 halftime score didn’t cause any immediate concern for the Indians. They showed that they had come to play in the third. Their defense was creating problems for Corinth. Additionally, they were getting some fast-breaks and cleaning the boards. They were on the Warriors’ rear bumper at 47-45 when the third frame ended.
The Indians caught up with the Warriors at 49 all at the beginning of the last quarter. And it was still close until the Warriors hit a pair of treys. Byhalia tried hard to overcome the deficit but couldn’t seem to stop LaBrandon Smith and Deonte Herman. The duo accounted for 39 of the Warriors’ points in the 69-58 win.
Byhalia got 19 points from Mario Parker, 11 from Courtney Warren and nine from Cornelius Blackmon.
The Indians’ hopes of getting to “The Big House” this season were dashed when they lost to Rosa Fort 55-54 in the North State consolation game at Corinth Saturday night. The Indians had beaten the Lions in the Region 3-3A championship game. They finished the season with a 22-13 record.
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